We’re all familiar with the concept of scarcity - we experience it enough times in our lives. Yet most of us don’t realize just how much of a powerful influence it is. It’s one of Cialdini’s six “weapons of influence” - along with social proof, liking, reciprocation, commitment and consistency, and authority.
The scarcity principle tells us that opportunities seem more valuable to us when they are less available. In his book “Influence: Science and Practice”, Cialdini gives the example of the doorbell or phone ringing while we are engaged in conversation with someone. No matter how engrossing the conversation, the caller offers something the person you’re talking with doesn’t - potential unavailability.
If I don’t take the call, I might miss it (and the information it carries) for good… With each unanswered ring, the phone interaction becomes less retrievable. For that reason and for that moment, I want it more than the other conversation.
Have you ever experienced that? Studies have shown that humans are often more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value. For instance, it was found to be more effective to tell a smoker how many years of life they’ll lose by not quitting, than to tell them how many they would gain by quitting!
The principle of scarcity applies to a lot of what we do as humans, including what we buy and how to sell, and even when it comes to falling in love! We’ll talk about this in more detail over the next few posts, so make sure you sign up to my RSS feed right now. Quick, before it’s too late!
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